Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Denver Botanic Gardens photo by PRWEB
Happy Holidays from your Jefferson County Colorado Master Gardener team!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Spring Blooming Bulbs Leafing in December by Mary Small

Tulips Leafing in December Photo by Mary Small
Last time I checked the calendar it was December.  So why are some of my spring blooming bulbs leafing?  And what will happen to them following this recent cold snap?

Fortunately my plants (and maybe yours) don’t “think” it is spring! It seems that when fall weather is mild, some bulb plants send up a bit of green foliage. (Some bulb species produce green foliage whether or not the fall has been mild!) In most cases, leaves stay just a few inches above the soil  throughout the rest of the cold period. If the weather is really cold, foliage may freeze and turn yellow or brown and shrivel.  But generally new leaves appear in the spring followed by flowering.

Plants native to cooler climates have a mechanism to keep them from blooming or growing at the “wrong” time, called “chilling requirement”.  This is the number of hours a plant has to be exposed to temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees F before the plant can break dormancy.  Spring flowering bulbs, perennials and trees all have a chilling requirement, although it varies among plant species. Once a plant has met its chilling requirement, it “waits” until conditions are favorable for growth before leafing and flowering.  In our area, the chilling requirements can be met by around February.

Soil temperatures are one of the triggers that tell flowering bulbs that conditions are favorable and its “good to grow”. So we can help slow the progress of spring flowering by adding a mulch layer over the soil where bulbs are planted.  This helps keep soil temperatures cooler and slow the spring leaf and flower development.  If you haven’t applied mulch, go ahead and do it now.
Otherwise Mother Nature has things well in hand.  Enjoy your holidays!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Poinsettia Care by Carol King

With proper care, the poinsettias that decorate your home during the Christmas season can retain their beauty for many weeks.

Follow these steps for best results:
Photo CSU
  • Choose plants with deep, dark green foliage and full, undamaged colored leaves, also called bracts. The actual flower is yellow and is located at the base of the bracts. Plants with tightly-closed flowers that have not yet shed pollen will last the longest in your home.
  • Place plants in the sunniest part of the home to ensure proper growth. Avoid placing a poinsettia near cold drafts, radiators and heat vents. To keep the color of the bracts bright, maintain your poinsettia between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperature prolongs bract color, but don't allow it to dip below 50 degrees.
  • Water poinsettias thoroughly as needed. If your poinsettia is wrapped in a decorative foil, punch holes in the bottom of the foil to ensure proper drainage and removal of excess water.

Contrary to popular belief, the flowers and leaves of poinsettia plants aren't poisonous, nor are they edible.     Here’s a great web site for “All Things Poinsettia” .

(Poinsettia care information from Planttalk Colorado.)